Lee Badman Wi-Fi wireless network architect
Name: Lee Badman
Title:Network architect
Location: New York
Certifications: Numerous. Most recent is CompTIA Mobility+.

About Lee
Lee is a busy network architect with primary duties in wireless, but he wears many hats after 17 years in IT. He’s also an adjunct instructor for IT-oriented classes at a large private university, a widely published industry analyst, and the proud dad to three great kids. Follow him on Twitter at @wirednot, and read Lee’s private blog covering all things wireless at wirednot.wordpress.com.

Lee’s (Wireless) Network Toolkit

wireless network toolkit Lee Badman Wi-Fi software tools

Photo: Lee Badman

Wi-Fi is an extremely nuanced area of networking, where strong opinions rage about the “best” tools. For me, wireless starts with the Ethernet network it connects to, so I’ll begin describing my toolkit by first taking you to Korey Robello’s excellent My Network Toolkit.

A collection like Korey’s is foundational for the wired side of Wi-Fi work. The only thing I might add to Korey’s setup is a basic PoE/link tester, such as Fluke Networks’ NetTool.

Beyond that, Wi-Fi support tends to be software-based, with some special dongles depending on programs in use.

Here are my must-haves:

  1. Spectrum analyzer, Wi-Fi SSID/channel tool. There are many to pick from, ranging from freeware to more advanced (pictured: Oscium WiPri).You usually you need a dedicated adapter for the higher-end products. The goal: demystify what’s in the air, from Wi-Fi networks to interference.
    wireless network tool kit Oscium WiPri

    Oscium WiPri / Screen cap: Lee Badman

  2. Packet analyzer. Here, there’s no cheap way out. Wi-Fi packet capture takes a specialty adapter for Windows (pictured: MetaGeek Eye PA) or a newer Mac laptop that can natively do 802.11 packet decodes.

    wireless network toolkit Metageek Eye PA

    Metageek Eye PA / Screen cap: Lee Badman

  3. Wi-Fi performance tester. Strong signals are only half the story, and you should have some sort of consistent methodology on hand to measure what the Wi-Fi can deliver at a given location and point in time. (pictured: Fluke Networks’ AirMagnet AirCheck for Android)

    wireless network toolkit AirMagnet AirCheck

    Fluke Networks AirMagnet AirCheck / Screen cap: Lee Badman

  4. Network Management System (NMS). Regardless of which WLAN vendors you support, each has a graphical interface that tells what’s going on as the system itself sees it. This is a critical complement to the other tools listed here.

Any collection of Wi-Fi tools includes one easily overlooked item: experience. The more you do Wi-Fi (with some formal training along the way), the better you’ll be at your trade.